Wheaton Coffee Chat
Posted by irakowler on October 19, 2009
On Thursday, October 15th, the Wheaton Neighbor Corps program took an exciting trip to learn more about local businesses in the Wheaton community. We began our evening by meeting at the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) offices in downtown Wheaton. Paula Sternberg, the Program Manager for Wheaton Buy Local, met the group and talked about what LEDC does to support local businesses, including helping with loan applications and innovative marketing strategies. We discussed some of the benefits of local small businesses. For example, local entrepreneurs provide places of employment for neighborhood residents, serve as community anchors, and ensure that money stays in the community. While at the LEDC offices, participants discusses the many local businesses they frequent in Wheaton, and learned about even more.
After finishing the discussion with Paula, we took a short trek (in the rain!) to Dejabel Café, a local business. After enjoying a delicious dinner, we heard from Eddie Velasquez, the owner of Dejabel. Eddie discussed his dreams for making Dejabel a community meeting place, where residents could gather and interact in meaningful ways. However, he also talked about the struggles he has been facing as a small business, competing against national chains and a sluggish economy. The group was struck by Eddie’s vision and commitment in spite of the hardships he faced and offered suggestions for reaching more potential customers. We left the evening with a better understanding of the Wheaton business community and the important interplay between neighborhood residents and local small businesses.